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Midsummer Reading For Kids

July 19, 1998

Editor's Note: Book Review is grateful to the editors of the Horn Book, one of America's most distinguished journals devoted to children's literature, for providing the following midsummer recommendations.

BALLPARK

By Elisha Cooper

Greenwillow: 40 pp., $15

This quiet tour takes us behind the scenes as a groundskeeper prepares the baseball field, workers unload boxes of peanuts, uniforms are laundered, players dress in the locker room and fans pack the stands. You can almost smell the hot dogs and hear the roar of the crowd. (Ages 5-8)

NIGHT AT THE FAIR

By Donald Crews

Greenwillow: 24 pp., $15

This big-experience, you-are-there picture book cruises through the crowds, the booths, the games and the rides at an old-fashioned county fair. The climax is four glorious, almost wordless spreads of the thrilling rides, from tilt-a-whirl to Ferris wheel, all lit up against the night sky. A truly spectacular visual experience. (Ages 4-7)

I LOST MY BEAR

By Jules Feiffer

Morrow Junior: 40 pp., $16

When a young girl misplaces her bear, her big sister suggests she throw away another toy in hopes that it will land in the same place as the lost bear. This method uncovers a variety of other missing treasures, which the girl plays with happily until bedtime--when she shamefacedly realizes she's forgotten all about her bear. Feiffer's loose-lined cartoon style illustrations capture the comedy and the drama of this affectionate family satire. (Ages 5-8)

LOTTIE'S NEW BEACH TOWEL

By Petra Mathers

Schwartz/Atheneum: 26 pp., $15

Lottie is a chicken who receives a beach towel from her Aunt Mattie just in time for a picnic she's having with her good friend Herbie, an unpretentious, big-bellied duck. Little does Lottie know just how useful her new red polka-dotted towel will prove. Pure fun on a hot summer day. (Ages 3-6)

RAISING DRAGONS

By Jerdine Nolen

Illustrated by Elise Primavera

Silver Whistle/Harcourt: 32 pp., $16

Ma and Pa are hard pressed to take their young daughter's pet dragon seriously until mysterious things begin to happen on their farm. Seeds are sown, tomatoes are saved from the heat and an overabundant field of corn is popped by fiery breath for profitable popcorn. This magical tale of friendship will send youngsters scurrying to find (or invent) a dragon of their own. (Ages 5-8)

BOSS OF THE PLAINS

The Hat That Won the West

By Laurie Carlson

Illustrated by Holly Meade

Kroupa/DK Ink: 32 pp. $16.95

Learn how John Batterson Stetson's ungainly but perfectly adapted tick-fur hat, which he named "Boss of the Plains," became an indispensable part of Western attire. Rough-and-ready illustrations and enticing prose set the scene for John Stetson to win readers as easily as he won the West. (Ages 5-8)

ZELDA AND IVY

By Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Candlewick: 40 pp., $15.99

Zelda, the precious fox, decides that she and Ivy, her younger sister, will play circus. Zelda is the announcer, and Ivy is the performer of increasingly death-defying, Zelda-dictated tricks. When Zelda suggests they gussy up their tails like movie stars, only Ivy's is painted, scalloped and beglittered. But soon Zelda's know-it-all big-sister tactics backfire and she has to be nice to Ivy--temporarily. Big and little sisters everywhere will identify with this dead-on expose of sibling-hood. (Ages 4-7)

PURPLE MOUNTAIN MAJESTIES

The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and

"America the Beautiful"

By Barbara Younger

Illustrated by Stacey Schuett

Dutton: 40 pp., $15.99

Younger draws on archival materials and family correspondence to sketch the vivacious and sometimes quirky temperament of the woman who wrote "America the Beautiful," while Schuett's glowing paintings capture the scenery that inspired the patriotic song. Look no further for all-American fare. (Ages 6-10)

SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF

By Wendelin Van Draanen

Knopf Books for Young Readers: 164 pp., $15

As Samantha Keyes trains her Gram's binoculars on the burglary in progress across the street, the thief looks up and sees her through the window; rather than call the police, Sammy waves. The events snowball from there until Sammy deduces the surprising identity of the thief. A treat for mystery lovers. (Ages 10-13)

MY LOUSIANA SKY

By Kimberly Willis Holt

Holt: 202 pp., $15.95

Why can't Tiger's parents, dubbed "retarded" by the town of Saitter, be more like Tiger's Aunt Dorie Kay, who lives the high life in big-city Baton Rouge? Tiger moves in with Dorie Kay, cuts her hair a la Hepburn and goes by her middle name, "Ann," only to discover that her parents' uncanny ways are an undeniable source of strength. An unpretentious plot and lyrical storytelling style make this a satisfying summer read. (Ages 10-14)

THE WRECKERS

By Iain Lawrence

Delacorte: 198 pp., $15.95

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